Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My brother's job doesn't suck...unless you happen to be a few thousand feet of rock

There are three Wedel boys, and we're a varied bunch.

There's me, born in 1975, paleontologist, procrastinator, blogger;

Todd, born in 1978, schoolteacher, sometime English professor, poet;

and Ryan, born in 1983, engineer, master of goofy faces, despoiler of the Earth.

Ryan's job is to design diamond-toothed steel bits used to drill for oil. In his own words:

"This is a steel body PDC (diamond cutter) bit with integrated turbine sleeve. We made it here in Ponca, and when it gets to the rig, they’ll stick it on the end of a hydraulic turbodrill, whirl it up to about 1100 rpm, and drill a hole miles into the earth."

Ryan sends these pictures around now and then just to make Todd and me feel like wussies. (Well, mostly Todd.) In his own words:

"I don't have any pictures of pure manliness to send from my profession. I guess they didn't think to include those in any sort of ideal job description in career planning.


I'll post more pix of Ryan's Gaia-rapers another time. Cuz they're awesome.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That would make drilling for my brachs in Australia a whole lot easier. Of course there wouldn't be any brachs left, but the awesomeness that is that drill would clearly make up for it, yes?

7:09 PM  
Blogger Dr. Vector said...

Wait, what kind of "brachs" are we talking about here? If you mean brachiosaurs, then drill awesomeness doesn't come into it--it's just Not Cool. What you need is a thousand highly trained volunteers scraping away the desert with dental picks. If it takes them awhile, so be it.

But if you mean brachiopods, then hell yeah, drill away. What's the point of having a ridiculously large sample size if you aren't going to trash a few?

Has anyone tried getting one of those explosive experts that can rig the dynamite so it blows your house down but leaves your garage standing? Cuz it seems like you should be able to say to one of those folks, "Rig it so the overburden flies off over there and the bones land on these giant foam pads." I mean, you'd want to practice on clams or mammals or something, but I think we should look into it.

12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh no, never to be drilling around brachiosaurs! I meant brachipods, and I certainly feel no guilt in trashing a few of the little bastards with a drill like that.

Actually after looking at 14530ish growth lines I wouldn't mind trashing them all at the moment...blech.

Back to my much less impressive microdrill...

8:05 AM  
Blogger Dr. Vector said...

I'd send one of these bits over to you, but each one costs a bit more than I make in a year. Turns out that working ultrahard metal impregnated with loads of industrial diamond is somewhat expensive.

Plus, there's no telling what an 1100 rpm turbodrill goes for...

Maybe you could try wrapping some sandpaper around a handheld mixer?

Please realize that all my anti-brachiopod talk is about 50% jealousy. It's the sample size thing. The animal I care most about in the world has an N of about 0.05. Sigh.

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No worries. I'm used to it at this point. Fossil envy runs rampant, and it can be harder to get excited about yet another Terebratulina than a skull the size of a small pony.

I've come up with a pretty effective countermeasure though. I just pull out my super impressive p value of 0.05, then I just sit back and show off my best smug look. Works every time, mostly because they don't care. But in my head I'm happy as a...brachipod?

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You damned kids don't know you're born. I dream of a specimen with n=0.05.

And get of my lawn!

(This is from Mike Taylor, but the awesome crapulence of Blogger won't let me post it as myself. Time you moved to WordPress?)

5:28 PM  
Blogger Dr. Vector said...

Oh, yeah, I love the idea of migrating all 200+ posts to WordPress. I'll get right on that.


Now that I'm blogging on both, I find WordPress almost as irritating as Blogger in some respects. So I'm staying put.

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Engineers may be manly in a crude sort of war, but that's just because they're really nothing more than glorified blacksmiths, not Real Scientists. You might as well envy plumbers their buttcrack.

As a commenter, I find Blogger more bothersome than Wordpress, so perhaps you'll want to stick to Blogger.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Dr. Vector said...

I feel compelled to point out that the manliest part of paleontology is glorified ditchdigging. The blue-collar aspect doesn't make it less awesome--the opposite, in fact. At least once a year I get to swing a pick and feel like a Real Man instead of an Ivory Tower Wuss. It's pretty emasculating when an engineer says, "I designed this ion reflux pronabulator that can tunnel through solid rock at 400 feet per second," and all you have to shoot back with is, "I taught some freshman how to use the Hardy-Weinberg equation."

I like that bit about the buttcracks, though. That's the kind of casual crudity I try to cultivate around here (I'm not kidding; try searching this blog for the f-word). Keep it up.

1:13 PM  

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